Remembering an 'icon to the shelter world'
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent | March 14. 2013 8:27PM
The late Jim Guinane, a dedicated Monadnock Humane Society volunteer and a dog's best friend, will be honored Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy/The Keene Sentinel)
The Society is celebrating Guinane with an open house and reception from 2 to 4 p.m. with a dedication ceremony to take place at 2:30. The public is welcome to come for a tour and visit the shelter animals during the open house.
Guinane is an "icon in the shelter world" who needs to be honored, said Michelle Thevenin, executive director of Monadnock Humane Society.
In the late 1990s, Guinane was known to the organization as a committed volunteer with a love for dogs and a passion for training them. He worked with the shelter dogs to make sure they were well-behaved and trained, Thevenin said.
"He really was one of our key volunteers in helping dogs become more adoptable. Because shelter environment - no matter how good it is - it's not the same as a home. Dogs are social animals. They want the interaction with people. They want to sleep on your bed and they need a lot of exercise."
When his wife Linda stepped down as treasurer of the board he filled the spot and soon became a pivotal board member in the capital campaign to build the current West Swanzey Road facility. The former shelter was an old farm building. The roof leaked and there was little to no heat, Thevenin said.
"It wasn't welcoming to the public nor was it a great place to work from an environmental perspective," Thevenin said.
The shelter also wasn't ideal for the animals. "When you think about depressing, jail like sheltering, that was kind of what was there. . It was not ideal living conditions for the animals. In this community we needed to serve this population better."
In 1997, though, the board received disappointing news. A feasibility study revealed the organization would only be able to raise half of the $2.2 million needed for the project.
To everyone's surprise Guinane donated $1 million to the capital campaign, which opened the funding up to matching granting and other fundraising opportunities, and the new shelter and training center was opened in 2000.
"I almost never support capital campaigns," Guinane said at the time. "But in this case it's absolutely needed because we simply can't do any more in this facility."
Since moving into the new facility in 2000, the Monadnock Humane Society has been able to focus more on animal welfare issues and the problems that lead to homeless pets.
"This facility helped redefine how we house shelter animals," Thevenin said of shelters nation-wide.
Guinane remained an active volunteer for many years. He passed away late last year after an illness, Thevenin said.
Guinane was already a legend at the Society when Stephanie Frommer, shelter operations director, came to work there, she said. "He left a lasting impression in this place both physical and in spirit," she said. "He did so much for the dogs, in volunteering he worked for years and years training dogs. . He was an incredibly dear, dear man."
In the former shelter, that was less than ideal for the animals, he gave the dogs an outlet, worked with the dogs that most needed it, giving the dogs the behavior skills they needed to find permanent homes, Frommer said.
"He was one of our biggest champions in getting this building built," Frommer said. "He just believed in what we did. He believed in the dogs here and we couldn't have done any of it without him and I really miss him," Frommer said.
Linda Guinane has been honored by the organization as a lifetime vice president and plans to speak at the dedication service Saturday.
The Society is a private non-profit organization that is funded by the local community and serves 44 towns in the region. Each year the society provides food, shelter, veterinary, and behavioral care, assessment and placement services to more than 2,200 homeless animals.
All are welcome to come to the open house and dedication Saturday. For more information, visit www.monadpets.org.